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It’s been catastrophic since the elimination of socialization from my daily life. Wasn’t always that way. In the beginning I welcomed the lockdown, a respite, a new freedom, off the treadmill of an existence packed tight from working in the vineyard of do-gooders. I ponder, will we ever escape the personal fear of an invasion of covid-19? Each morning saddled with futility of fear brought back childhood memories during World War II. After school, sitting with my Mother doing the daily spelling test, once over I could go outside to play. I continually confused the spelling of niece and nice, being yelled at, silently wondering why spelling was necessary when the war would kill us all. Heavy duty for a little kid.

I struggle with quarantine fatigue, the absence of friends too risky to visit and the daily challenge of maintaining motivation. A friend recommended a lay-back approach. Impossible, unsuited to my goal setting, people-centered personality. I mourned for my community life rigorously scheduled though filled and balanced with challenges and accomplishment. A long time ago, in early March we were informed by catastrophic mis-government that the viral tide would retreat. It has not. Across the land cities, towns and rural areas are experiencing an up-take in virus contamination in hospitals and badly hit nursing homes. Most people have accepted serious privations for themselves as well as the common good. We paid heed and remained compliant to lockdowns. As I write in mid-June, I’m invited to a small gathering hosted by the widow of a diseased wealthy Texan who served in the elder Bush’s White House. As a naturalized citizen since 1960, there are still times when I pause, take a deep breath and utter: Only In America. This is one of those times. The celebration centers around the diseased man’s birthday. Had he lived, he’d be one hundred years old. By attending am I putting myself at risk? Never mind, vanity wins out, I’ll be masked, savoring the joy of dressing up, craving socialization, frankly looking forward to a group of nine, an opportunity of taking political temperatures of well heeled republicans. Do I hear someone muttering: “curiosity killed the cat”? Stay tuned!

Finton O’Toole, highly visible and respected columnist for The Irish Times, recently received a fair amount of notice in US media outlets for his analysis of mis-government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. He concluded his column dramatically, declaring that Ireland felt pity for America. More recently O’Toole, prompted no doubt by the anti-racism riots in the US and Ireland tackled the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission on the issue of online racist hate speech. It’s against the law in the Republic though largely ignored. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar emphasized “black lives matter” adding, “black feelings matter too.” Stressing the need to root out racism, he highlighted the absence of people of color in legal enclaves, television and parliament. Not mentioned, the discrimination against the Traveling people, formerly referred to as Tinkers and Gypsies. Years ago in Dublin on assignment for the Irish Tourist Board I witnessed a young gypsy teenager flying across a street followed by an elder male gypsy. When apprehended the boy, knocked to the ground and kicked mercilessly by the man wearing what I recognized as hob nailed boots. A scene of utter violence while shopkeepers leaned up silently in their doorways calmly watching. A startling example of the distain Irish society held for the the Traveling people. None of my business, although I rode in the ambulance with the young boy, an act of pure instinct. He was treated and released.

Years later, attending the first Irish Conference on Women at Trinity College, a traveling woman spoke about her life. She produced near a dozen children without any medical, pre-or-post nuptial care. She was humble and humbling explaining she had no way to wash herself, too embarrassed to seek out medical care for examination and care. It a recent report the number of deaths among Traveler infants is 14.1 per thousand live births compared to 3.9 among the general population. Another startling statistic, traveling women live on average twelve years less than women in the general population. Their men live an estimated 15-years less.

We Irish were recently confronted with startling prejudice by the United Kingdom and the Church of England objecting to an inscription on a gravestone in the Gaelic language. The UK Ecclesiastic Church ruled that without a translation, the inscription would not be understood by those visiting the graveyard. Also, the Irish words could be regarded as a political statement.

The tombstone of Margaret Keene, born in Ireland, proud of her Irish heritage life, featured the Gaelic inscription that translated “In Our Hearts Forever.” However, Judge Stephen Eyre insisted that the English translation be chiseled underneath the Gaelic language because if not, it would be “incomprehensible to most who read it.” Utterly ridiculous! Hog wash! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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